Ontario Government Funding for Hiring Workers with Disabilities

Human Resource Concept

DISCLAIMER: The funding programs mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication. The programs mentioned here are likely to see changes over time.

The most recent Canadian government demographic report (from 2017) shows that one in five Canadians aged 15 and above – roughly 6.2 million individuals – have one or more disabilities that have direct impacts on mental and/or physical health. Despite the obstacles that disabilities may present, persons with disabilities can be educated and highly motivated, and able to perform tasks as, or even more, effectively as non-disabled applicants. Still, the study found that people aged 25 to 64 years old with disabilities are less likely to be employed (59%) than similar applicants that do not classify any disabilities (80%).

To help improve and increase opportunities for persons living with disabilities, Canadian employers can access government funding support to help accommodate and transform the job market to be more inclusive for all.

For many years now, the Government of Ontario has been identifying and endorsing ways to improve unemployment rates among people with disabilities. As such, the Ontario government continues to urge and support small and medium-sized businesses to hire workers that have identified disabilities to improve economic opportunities for all, reduce discrimination, and invest in enhanced workplace development initiatives.

Addressing Ontario’s High Unemployment Rates for Persons with Disabilities

There are many types of qualifying disabilities in Canada, including physical or mental conditions related to mobility, sight, hearing, learning, dexterity, pain, development, and psychological disorders. Over 15% of Ontario’s population identifies with one or more of these categories.

Hiring an individual with a disability may seem like a risk to some business owners, however, employers are forgetting to see the ‘able’ within the word disabled.

Since the Government of Ontario announced a multi-tier employment strategy to improve unemployment rates among the province’s disabled community in June 2017, there have been substantial changes. 

Working together, we’ll arrive at the destination we set out for 10 years ago: an accessible Ontario by 2025.

Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) has improved accessibility standards in five key areas of daily living:

  1. Customer service;
  2. Information and communications;
  3. Employment;
  4. Transportation; and
  5. Public space design.

Under the AODA, the government is responsible for creating accessibility standards that organizations must follow. Implementing and enforcing these standards will help us work together to make Ontario more accessible and inclusive by 2025.

Government Funding for Hiring and Accommodating Workers with Disabilities

There are currently no programs available which provide specific hiring support for employers looking to bring on employees with disabilities. However, to make it easier for employers to support the government’s goals, Ontario offers funding for employers to help businesses reduce the cost of expanding their workforce while helping to increase opportunities for all. Currently, here are a few funding programs that may help offset the cost of hiring Ontarians, including those with disabilities:

  • The Enabling Accessibility Fund: Eligible organizations can receive up to $100,000 for small construction, renovation or retrofit of existing spaces to improve accessibility, accessible information, and communication technologies;
  • Mitacs Accelerate and Mitacs Elevate: Provide funding up to $30,000 for recent graduates and post-grad/fellowship students pursuing a PHD, etc.;
  • Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program: Receive up to 50-100% of minimum wage in Youth Hiring Grants. The Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program offers support for employers providing supervised career-related work experience for youth employees, which may include youth workers with disabilities;
  • Career-Ready with CTMA: Expanding Opportunities : Offers non-repayable contributions to subsidize the wages of new hires or the upskilling of existing employees with up to 50% of wages to a maximum of $5,000 per experiential work placement (EWP); and
  • The NOHFC People & Talent Program is designed to attract, retain, and develop Northern Ontario’s workforce by creating and sustaining new and existing jobs with up to 50% of funding for an intern’s salary to a maximum of $35,000 per year.

Please note that the above programs are implemented for employers to apply for, not employees. However, if you are an individual with a disability who is looking for personal funding support, the Ontario Disability Support Program offers support where needed.

Businesses Can Access Funding for Training Initiatives

The Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG) also provides training grants to help employers invest in workforce development initiatives. This funding program is available for both training to assist employees with disabilities and to improve the employability of a business’ workforce.

Eligible businesses in Ontario can access this government funding to enhance their labour force by utilizing training and education for new/existing employees, including those with disabilities. These small business grants can be used to offset external training programs that lead to operational and productivity improvements.

Eligible employers can access up to 50-100% of up to $15,000 in employee training costs per trainee.

There are many other variations of the Canada Job Grant (CJG) program for the remaining provinces in Canada. To see a list of all programs, please visit the Canada Job Grant (CJG) program page.

How to Apply for Funding

To get started with COJG, businesses must submit an application that includes a business overview, detailed training plans, training impacts, and vendor quotes. Within the application, businesses must identify all trainees by title and how the training will impact their role within the company. Applications can be reviewed and approved in as little as 2-4 weeks.

Learn More About Government Funding for Your Business

Interested businesses may contact Mentor Works to learn more about any of these hiring grants and determine whether their business is eligible to apply for government funding to offset costs of hiring and/or training persons with disabilities.

Sign up to receive Mentor Works’ Weekly Funding E-Newsletter to stay updated on current government funding programs and ensure that you have access to all of the opportunities to leverage funding for your strategic growth.

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    1. Hi Wayne,

      The support mentioned in this article is for employers to hire workers with a self-identified disability. If you mention this program to potential employers, they can apply for funding and hire you. This can give you an advantage over other candidates.

  1. Hi There,

    I live in British Columbia, and want to start a not-for-profit business that exclusively hires deaf and disabled people to help ease them into the working world. I am not disabled myself.
    Is there any funding/grants available to help me start this business? I am having a hard time in my research, as most grants are for disabled people starting a business.
    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Jessica, while there is limited funding available to help start a non-profit, there may be potential for you to access funding specifically for hiring people with disabilities once the organization is running. Until you’ve become a registered non-profit and are ready to hire an employee, it will be difficult to secure government-based funding programs.

      1. HI Jeff, Thanks for your reply. Would it be better to register as a for-profit business? Would you be able to point me in the right direction to apply for this funding?
        Thanks for your help!

  2. Hi, that’s weird. I posted a question on here, but it seems to have disappeared. I was asking if a private members golf club that I’m working for, though a non-profit, could qualify for funding or a disability worker grant, since I qualify as disabled and they have made accommodations to keep me on.


    1. Hi LC, unfortunately government funding is not available to support current employees such as yourself. These incentives are designed to help employers overcome barriers to employing people with disabilities and recruit new workers. Since you’re already on payroll, your employer is no longer eligible to receive funding.

  3. Is the funding finished for this year? I work at a group home for men with brain injury and have a young man that wants to start working. I also own a company that has a contract with a large company that has ladies clothing stores.
    I would love to hire him to help me but I was worried if he got hurt. Is there help for insurance coverage too?

    1. Hi Ken, unfortunately funding for that program is no longer available. We’re looking for towards the provincial government’s upcoming Fall Fiscal Update to release information on new and continued funding programs, so there may be a similar funding option available then. If you would like to discuss potential grants and loans to help you in other areas, please contact Mentor Works.

      1. Would like to hire someone on UDSB that has seizures.
        Would I be protected against any wsib claims or will I be liable if trying to help someone who is disabled.
        Seems to me like employers should have protection if trying to help someone out

        1. Hello Josh,

          Thank you for reaching out with this question. As it turns out this program no longer has an active intake of applications. I cannot speak to how future programs like this will be run, however, it may be a good idea to connect with WSIB through one of their channels here to discuss how taking on someone who is disabled can impact your business.

          If you would like to explore hiring for your team in the current funding landscape, I would invite you to connect with a member of our team here.

  4. Is there training available for employers and fellow employees, who wish to hire a disabled worker

    1. Hello Dan, thanks for your comment. While there may be some opportunities to access funding for training, you may also be interested in learning more about grants to hire the disabled worker. I’ve asked a colleague of mine to follow-up with you directly. Please expect an email within the next 1-2 business days!

      1. Hi Jeff, do you happen t know if there are any grants specifically for ‘hiring’ an individual with a disability. I have seen training grants, and improving accessibility grants, but not sure about a straight out hiring incentive grant. I know that there are grants for 29 and under age wise, but it feels like that with disabilities often fall through the cracks and are not treated seriously. For instance, I know someone with a beautiful writing talent who has done lots online, but often times, it is volunteer, with very rarely her being offer financial rewards (pay cheque). If there is a ‘list’ (I know, likely magical and illusive) of grants. that would be oh so lovely! 🙂 Cathy

    1. Hello Lisa,

      The government in the past has released several hiring programs that look for ways to improve unemployment rates among people with disabilities, structured much like what is outlined in one of our earlier blogs here. These programs will hopefully make their return in the near future. In the interim our best strategy is would be to explore any other hiring programs that can potentially support you with this role now. Feel free to fill out one of our contact forms here and we can have someone connect with you to go over the role and its fit for funding in some more detail together.

  5. Hi, I am a disabled person looking to start a small business. In the past there was something called the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities that I was able to get funding from for a different business that has ceased operation. I don’t see active internet information on funding from that program or any others right now. Is there anything at all provincially or federally you can point me to?

    1. Hello Mike,

      Thank you for reaching out to us with this question. As it turns out Mentor Works specializes in working with established companies secure funding to grow their business in multiple ways, ranging from hiring, to export development, to research, and much more. There are some amazing resources out there for persons looking to start their own business that are currently outside of our specialty area. We have a list of resources for Canadian Startup businesses listed on our website here, which is the perfect place to start.

      When it comes to the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities the program was more-so geared towards established businesses hiring persons with disabilities and may not have been a fit for a business owner starting their own business. The program has run its course and is not currently accepting applications. We hope to see a wonderful program like this be released again in the future.

  6. Hello Madam/Sir,
    I am on long term disability, I was a laboratory chemist in current job. I can’t do this job any more due to my disability, because this job has so much limitation for me like , Smell sensitivity to chemical, hectic and panic experimental conditions. I am also qualified for Regulatory Affairs job but this job has higher status than my current job.
    is it possible to get this job being a disable person to current job, how my current employer and insurance company help ?
    is it possible to my current employer to hire me for Regulatory affairs job? being a disable person.
    Do I have any government support to setup Regulatory Affairs business?

    is there any support to setup business or get the new job in regulatory affairs by government .
    how to proceed.
    Thanks a lot
    looking forward to your help

    with kind regards

    Brampton, Ontario, Canada

    1. Hi, thank you for your question. I would recommend consulting with your employer directly to see if there are employment opportunities there. Funding through this program is no longer available, however you can follow our Funding Newsletter for the latest funding updates, as new funding initiatives launch regularly and some might be relevant to your situation. All the best.

  7. Im a Senior on Old Age Pension and was working till Covid reduced my small salary.

    I have lost my ability to be Mobile because of a Disability.

    I would like to do a Business from Home even helping others with Disabilities or Seniors.

    What Grants or Loans are available for people of my condition?

  8. Hi
    I have a question. My 25 years old son has a physical disability. He is University graduate and recently found a job in IT field and is working from home. He never mentioned his disability to the employer. Is it advisable for him to mention his disability to the employer so that they can get some government funding. Would they be able to get funding since they already hired him. Is there any risk in mentioning his disability.
    Avtar Goralia

    1. Hi Avtar – The majority of government grants for hiring new employees are provided to employers who have submitted a funding application that was approved before the prospective employee joins the employer’s payroll.
      However, it is worth reaching out to your local Employment Ontario Centre to explore possible funding opportunities for your situation. All the best.

  9. Hi Christine – ODSP funding is provided directly to service providers to enable them to offer program and support services for people with disabilities. More information about ODSP’s support and funding can be found on the Ontario Disability Support Program website.
    If you are looking for hiring grants as an employer, wage subsidies are released throughout the year for various industries, job types, and candidates, including candidates with disabilities. You can stay up-to-date on the latest hiring funding news by subscribing to the funding newsletter or use the Hiring Grant Finder to explore if there is funding currently available for an upcoming hire not already on payroll.

  10. Hello, do provinces have any sort of list or database available of employers who have been approved for these grants, to help identify where best to apply for jobs for people with disabilities? Thank you.

    1. Hi Andrew – As it turns out, it’s common for these grants to require the applicant/employer to have a candidate in mind (but not yet working for the company) in order to apply. There are a wide range of hiring grants, each with their own application portals and offerings. Some do in fact have job boards, but others don’t. We would suggest visiting an open funding program’s official website to determine if they do have a job board as part of their offerings.

  11. I’m wondering is there anything out here that qualifies people with an acquired brain injury?? I have put myself school 2x since I aquired this injury.(closed head injury, brain injury due to the lack of oxygen). With this being briefly explained. I’ve tried multiple times to enlist in another program to be re-educated, but I have diculities retaining information, I need extra time to do tests, a note taker(carbonized paper or have a person who can type my notes). Basically a great / understanding counsellor. I’m frustrated because I want to achieve and not be a vegetable and a lame non contributing individual to society.I would some helpful guidance.

    1. Hi Sheri – Thank you for your comment. We would recommend reaching out to your provincial Employment Centre’s local location. For example, in Ontario the Employment Ontario Centres offer grants, resources, and support services to both employers and employees in order to help find meaningful employment and skills development opportunities.

  12. I have a son who has autism; will any company hire him as a co-op student? Are they likely to receive government assistance if they hire him?

    1. Hi Arundhati,

      Thank you for your comment. Although there aren’t much disability funding programs open right now, the government always has hiring programs available. The Canada Summer Jobs is one of the most popular hiring programs in Canada.

      Our Hiring Resources page displays different job boards to find open positions. Whether a company will receive government assistance after hiring him is dependent on the program type and the program cycle.

      We hope this helps answer your questions!

  13. Hi
    I am going to start working in one of my relative’s company.He is expanding his business and I am the one with disablility.ls there any governmental funding that he can apply to assist him?

    1. Hi Mona,

      Thank you for reaching out. Please fill up this form and a member of our team will reach out to you with possible funding options under Hiring & Training grants.

      We hope this helps.

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